Aside from selecting furniture, nothing poses a difficult design challenge quite like determining the layout of a room. Though bedrooms and kitchens clearly present their own challenges, we'd make the case that achieving a well-appointed living room is one of the trickiest design tasks to tackle. With open concept floor plans, awkwardly positioned windows, and seemingly endless seating options to consider, figuring out the perfect arrangement for a living room is no easy feat, whether you have 150-square-feet or 1,500.
For intel on foolproof living room layout ideas, we reached out to Stefani Stein, Courtney Nye of Courtney Nye Design, Shannon Claire Smith of Shannon Claire Interiors, Anna Filippova of Hyphen & Co., Jennifer Vaquero of September Workshop, and Jess Blumberg of Dale Blumberg Interiors — and, boy, did they deliver. Spanning brilliant ways to maximize seating in an elongated living room to classic arrangements ideal for entertaining, these are the ingenious living room layouts the pros swear by.
Not sure how to arrange your furniture? Six interior designers share the living room layout ideas that always work for them, no matter the square footage.
Idea #1: Account for Multiple Entry Points
When arranging furniture in a living room, don't forget to take flow into consideration, cautions Courtney Nye of Courtney Nye Design. "Laying out a living room that has more than one entry point can be a little tricky," the interior designer says. "I like to keep the main path of travel into the room clear from the backs of furniture, which helps the room feel larger and more inviting."
"Then any secondary entry point (in the living room pictured here this would be the dining room to the right of the lounge chairs) has a chair setup, versus a sofa, so it's less closed off," Nye adds. "The two matching chairs help balance out the sofa and maintain circulation. I also select chairs that have interesting looking back details since you will see [them] from all sides."
Idea #2: Center Seating Around a Focal Point
"So many people have open concept floor plans nowadays, and I find that they struggle to lay out furniture in their living and dining areas in a way that flows well and looks pretty," notes Shannon Claire Smith of Shannon Claire Interiors. "Once you decide the purpose of the space (lounging, entertaining, etc.), center the seating around the focal point."
"In most living rooms, it's usually the TV, but we don't want all of the attention to be on the TV itself," the interior designer says. "I like to surround the focal point with soft, symmetrical seating like a sectional sofa. Modular tables that can reach every angle and spot on the couch make it incredibly functional, and the back of the sofa creates a zone to break up one large room without being too visually heavy."
Idea #3: Create an Asymmetrical Composition
A visually asymmetrical composition can make a living room look and feel more casual and comfortable, according to Anna Filippova of Hyphen & Co. In this living room, the interior designer balances a sectional sofa with a statement chair and unique coffee table, adding a set of woven poufs for flexible seating. "To visually elevate the space, floor and table lamps were alternated with plants to form visual height variations," says Filippova. "This layout works great in apartments without overcrowding them."
Idea #4: Consider Multifunctional Options
As people move away from formal living room layout ideas, a lot of clients are asking for spaces that serve two functions: TV watching and conversation having, explains Jennifer Vaquero of September Workshop. "I always think about the orientation of the furniture in the room, and if it promotes both."
"For example, a sofa with a chaise facing a TV promotes only screen time, whereas an L-shaped sofa facing a pair of chairs has seating directed at both the screen and people that might be sitting across the room," she notes. "Another great way to achieve this, as we did in this living room of our Santa Monica project, is a standard sofa flanked by a smaller settee and two chairs."
Idea #5: Opt for Symmetrical Seating
When in doubt, a symmetrical living room layout idea will almost always work. "In this smaller sized living room with a fireplace, we faced two sofas in the center of the space and placed two chairs and side tables at one end to create and close the conversation area, while still allowing access to the space," explains Jess Blumberg of Dale Blumberg Interiors. "This classic mirrored living room layout is perfect for intimate entertaining."
Idea #6: Include a Secondary Seating Area
Here's proof that an awkwardly shaped living room can actually be a design advantage. "At times, something that starts out as a problem can become an interesting design detail," offers Stefani Stein. "For rooms that are elongated, have an attached nook or other non-standard feature, I like to incorporate a secondary seating area," she explains. "It helps bring a sense of flow to the space without drawing attention to areas that might feel awkward if trying to approach the room with a single sitting area."